If you’re heaping dusty grounds into a paper filter every morning, chances are you’re not drinking the best. And that’s a damn shame because often that first cup is your only moment of calm before the 9-to-5 turns into an all-day grind. Here at MH, we believe you deserve better coffee; and that’s why we tagged in World Barista champ Michael Phillips to help elevate your java.
The trick: focus on the three main pillars of brewing, namely the beans, the grind and the cup. Perfect each step and you’ll never be drinking a bad brew again. Let’s go, it’s time to percolate:
Coffee begins to lose flavour from the moment it’s roasted, so find the freshest beans you can, says Phillips. “If there’s no roast date on the bag, it may be because the roaster doesn’t want you to know it,” he says. Find a local roaster, or order online from an artisanal roaster (see below). Aficionados often prefer single-origin brews, but a blend offers a more consistent cup. By mixing beans from several regions, the roaster downplays off-flavours and boosts the best tastes from each bean.
Exposure to oxygen destroys the volatile oils that give coffee its flavour, so buy your beans whole and grind them yourself. Don’t use a spice grinder; it chops unevenly, yielding coffee that’s both over- and under-extracted. Upgrade to a burr grinder, which pulverises beans uniformly as they pass through the grinding elements. Models go for as low as R400, but for a truly solid burr grinder, we like the Bodum Bistro Burr Grinder (R990 Yuppiechef.co.za); it offers precise control over your grind. For the pour-over cone, a medium-fine grind is ideal.
The brightest, cleanest flavour comes from using a simple pour-over cone lined with a paper filter, says Phillips. A bonus: it’s easy to clean and takes up almost no counter space.